Yong Pal

October 10, 2015

Original Title: 용팔이

Country: South Korea

Format: TV Drama

Episodes: 18

Broadcast Year: 2015

Production Company: SBS

Starring: Joo Won, Kim Tae-Hee, Jo Hyun-Jae, Chae Jung-An

My Rating:

It has been a while since I’ve watched a drama whose scenes were so memorable and powerful that they sent chills down my spine. Yong Pal has so much going for it. Don’t get discouraged from watching it just because it says “medical drama” because that’s only partly true. While there are multiple surgery scenes and the main character is a doctor, the actual story focuses on greed. Read on in my Korean drama review for Yong Pal.

Synopsis

Kim Tae-Hyun is a talented young surgeon at Hanshin Medical Center. He is also known as Yong Pal, an on-call doctor/surgeon who would illegally service gang members, celebrities, and criminals who cannot go to the hospital due to various reasons at a high price. He does this to raise money in order to save his sister from a terminal illness. He gets promoted to the VIP-only 12th floor where he meets a patient, Han Yeo-Jin, the heiress to Hanshin Group who is in a medically-induced coma.

The Good

  • Interesting plot
  • Good balance of different genres
  • Good acting and chemistry

The Bad

  • The story starts off very exciting until a little after the halfway point
  • Romance was “put aside” to account for revenge plot

Review

The story begins simple enough — you have a doctor, Kim Tae-Hyun (played by Joo Won) trying to make ends meet by doing illegal jobs for the sake of saving his sister. The story is basically about greed and its consequences. It’s very realistic in its depiction of many different kinds of people in the world, each with their own ambitions and greed. Tae-Hyun witnesses first-hand the consequences of greed and corruption through different kinds of people, both good and bad, whether it be the gangsters that he treats, the corrupt politicians who want a piece of the corporation, and his own co-workers at the hospital. The stakes are high for Tae-Hyun as any small step would land him in jail and his sister would die since they are poor and have no money to send her abroad to treat her illness.

Yeo-Jin wondering if she can trust this doctor. Photo © SBS

Yeo-Jin wondering if she can trust this doctor. Photo © SBS

Through various circumstances, he gets promoted to the 12th floor of the hospital which only services the rich. He’s tasked with watching over the heiress of Hanshin Group, Yeo-Jin (played by Kim Tae-Hee) who is in a coma. Meanwhile, her brother is trying to take over her father’s corporation and he’s willing to do anything it takes. Tae-Hyun knows Yeo-Jin is in a medically-induced coma and his sense of righteousness makes him want to save her before it’s too late. This is the part of the drama that I really enjoyed watching because there were so many twists and turns; you would never know what would happen next.

This is also the part where the story begins to diverge from the typical medical drama because it’s now about how Tae-Hyun will save Yeo-Jin and how she will eventually face her brother and take back what is rightfully hers. I really liked their metaphor for the corporation, a throne in which Yeo-Jin is the heiress and the Queen. Because she had been in a coma for three years, her muscles have started to atrophy. Emphasis was given that she must walk to her thrown on her own in order to fully control it. And that scene was so powerful that it sent chills down my spine! Very good editing, very good acting, all paired with a very good soundtrack. Unfortunately, that’s about as good as it gets. But don’t worry, you’ll have the entire first half of the series to enjoy it.

Yeo-Jin sees the world for the first time after three years. Photo © SBS

Yeo-Jin sees the world for the first time after three years. Photo © SBS

And of course, the romance. This is the first Korean drama in which I thought the romance was actually not done very well. The chemistry was there, it’s just that I felt Tae-Hyun and Yeo-Jin’s relationship was a bit rushed because she loved another man before her coma. And while it had been three years, she was asleep the whole time so I doubt that would change her feelings. But it seemed to me like she decided too easily to love Tae-Hyun. And not much was done to develop their relationship afterwards, either, as the plot has become focused on revenge after the halfway point.

Spoiler alert! Click and read at your own risk.

Yong Pal was originally a 16-episode drama but was extended to 18 episodes due to its popularity. Unfortunately, the latter part of the series felt broken due to the two extra episodes. After the villain was caught and revenge was taken, what else was there for Yeo-Jin to do? It was too quick and easy; it felt like the villain was supposed to make a comeback which he never did. Instead, we were made to almost sympathize with the villain. In order to add more plot to fulfill the two extra episodes, they created a new but weak villain. What fueled the person to become the new villain felt forced and was not elaborated on and before you knew it, the new plot escalated and dissipated just like that. And that’s not all, you can never have enough terminal illnesses in a Korean drama so they added another one. I felt like they could’ve done better without it so they could spend more time on the new villain. The second climax was anti-climactic which led to a super rushed ending.

Yeo-Jin's ruthless brother, Han Do-Joon. Photo © SBS

Yeo-Jin’s ruthless brother, Han Do-Joon. Photo © SBS

Overall, I enjoyed Yong Pal for its realistic depiction of greed and revenge. It’s really unfortunate that it ended the way it did; the extended episodes could have certainly been done better. But despite that, I still recommend this drama.

More Information: AsianWiki

This is my drama review and is entirely opinionated. Your opinions may differ. Any offense caused by my rants and ramblings is unintentional. Thank you for understanding.

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